How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Blacksburg 29702
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist training near Blacksburg SC is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Blacksburg dental office and can perform a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some South Carolina dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the South Carolina dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Blacksburg dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the South Carolina practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at South Carolina community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Blacksburg area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Blacksburg home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Blacksburg area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the South Carolina schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Blacksburg area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Blacksburg area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most Blacksburg area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Blacksburg dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the South Carolina programs you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 29702 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Blacksburg in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Dental School near Blacksburg SCChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.